MUSCATINE, Iowa–Each year, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine has opportunities to work with individuals and organizations of all sorts on projects that improve the community. To honor some of the most outstanding efforts taking place in Muscatine County annually, the Community Foundation presents three Initiative Awards. This fall, they selected the Weed Park Zoo Garden for the Tom Hendricks Community Service Award, Jean Meyer for the Shirley Jean Drake Great Initiative Award, and Ethan Mattes for the Giles Joslyn Youth Initiative Award.
Started in 2016 by Muscatine Charities, the Tom Hendrick Community Service Award celebrates the efforts of volunteer groups to make a positive impact in their communities. This year’s $8,000 award went to the Zoo Garden. A volunteer led program to beautify a once disused part of Weed Park and to maintain it for area residents to enjoy, the donation will contribute to ongoing maintenance and innovations in the garden.
Since 2009, the Shirley Jean Drake Great Initiative Award celebrates the efforts of an individual volunteer. This year’s recipient, Meyer, has volunteered at the Wilton Public Library for more than 12 years, helping with children’s programming and other needs. Meyer has also assisted with food delivery and transportation for people in need in Wilton. Meyer directed the $1,500 donation tied to the award to the Wilton Food Pantry.
Giles Joslyn used the first Youth Initiative Award, which now bears his name, to put on the inaugural String Fest fundraising concert to help Muscatine Community School District purchase instruments for students who could not afford them. This year’s recipient, Ethan, chose to direct the $1,000 award to Rebuilding Together Muscatine County. For more than three years, Ethan has worked with Rebuilding Together to build ramps for older adults and people with disabilities.
A time to honor the ways Muscatine County residents give back, Niki Moore Nienhaus, program manager for the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, expressed joy in getting to honor several worthy causes and individuals. “We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize the good work of fellow citizens and nonprofit organizations who are making a difference,” she said. “These annual awards highlight the committed volunteers in our communities who are addressing critical needs and enhancing quality of life.”
Each fall, the Community Foundation accepts nominations for all of their Initiative Awards. They then assemble a committee of volunteer judges to go through every submission and select a winner for each award that best meets its requirements and intent. Moore Nienhaus encourages those wanting to nominate an individual or volunteer group for a future Initiative Award to learn more by visiting the Community Foundation’s website and watching to see when the next nomination period opens.